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You Shall not Commit Adultery

March 06, 2024; Rev. Kurt A. Lantz, Pastor
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Life in the 6

Perhaps as much as anywhere through the Ten Commandments do we see the bending, twisting, and breaking of God’s holy Law in the societal permissions surrounding the 6th, “You shall not commit adultery.”


Jesus revealed this sinful bent of mankind in the Pharisees of His day, twisting and breaking His commandments in order to make permissive what was of more advantage to them. He pointed out in particular the tradition of their day to try to escape the 4th Commandment by dedicating their property and wealth to the service of God in order that it might not have to be used in the care of aging parents (Matthew 15:3-9). This would allow them to continue to live in wealth and luxury while public social assistance took care of the elderly. They wouldn’t have to dip into their wealth to care for aging parents if it was bequeathed to a religious purpose.


People manipulate all of God’s commandments in order to avoid doing what He commands, and some of this becomes tradition, common ways that we try to skirt God’s Holy Law. In regard to the 6th Commandment, people come up with all kinds of excuses as to why they cannot get married but must live together outside of marriage. It might have to do with the cost of a wedding, or the loss of certain benefits that add up to more individually than as a married couple. It might be in order to keep assets separate, or to deal with the cost of housing. But at the heart of it is a sinful, selfish desire to do what we want and not to commit ourselves to what our God has commanded for our good and blessing.


Living together and bedding together before marriage has become a tradition. It is common and commonplace. It is hardly a surprise anymore when young adults announce to their parents that they have decided to move in with the person they are dating. In fact, some parents even suggest it to their children and advise them to give it a trial run under the same roof and under the same covers before making the commitment to a life-long marriage. And in some cases the trial run never gets beyond the trial. The commitment to marriage is never made.


“Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3) It may have become a tradition in society or in your family, but why? Why do your break the 6th Commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?--For the same reasons that the Pharisees made a tradition that convinced them they could break the 4th Commandment and not incur God’s wrath.


We convince ourselves that this is a way to try to assure that a marriage doesn’t end in divorce. If we give it a try before making the lifelong vow before God and man, then if it has to end, at least it won’t be a divorce, a breaking of God’s holy institution of marriage. It is the poorest of logic: to engage in habitual sin, in order to prevent a sin. And it doesn’t pan out in practice either. People who live together before marriage do not have a lower rate of divorce at all. They only begin with the ideology that they can get out of the commitment with less red tape.


Of course, living together outside of marriage is not the only way the 6th Commandment is bent, broken, and twisted. There are other traditions that have perhaps even a longer history than that. The bachelor or bachelorette parties that break down into debauchery supposedly to get that last bit of immorality out of their system before the wedding; or the young people going from their parental home, even sometimes being sent out, to “sow their wild oats”; these have all gained the status of societal traditions that are supported by the faulty logic that they somehow contribute to a more faithful monogamous marriage afterward. We should also include the use of pornography with the deviant idea that it may help to keep sexual immorality from moving on to more physical corruptions. The logic is absurd.


As much as with the 4th Commandment, perhaps even moreso with the 6th Commandment, sinful mankind comes up with “traditions” that society finds completely acceptable, even while acknowledging that full blown infidelity which would break up a marriage and family is the real evil that needs to be avoided. In fact, our sinful nature does this kind of thing with all of the commandments, as Jesus pointed out to the religious leaders of His day.


“Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person” (Matthew 15:18-20). In addition to the 4th Commandment which was the basis of His initial challenge, Jesus included also the 5th “murder”, the 6th “adultery, sexual immorality”; the 7th “theft”; the 8th “false witness, slander.” It is obvious that Jesus was revealing a pattern of self-justification within sinful mankind which does not want to be constrained by God’s Commandments, or confess that they have been broken. Therefore we are in need of God’s salvation by grace alone.


Jesus warned: “Every plant that My heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13). That means that all of the traditions of man that have come into common usage in order to soften God’s commandments or to provide self-justification whereby we believe that we are choosing the better of two deviant options, all of that kind of thinking will be uprooted on the day when our Lord returns in judgment. Our Pharisaical hearts which condemn the actions of others without seeing the sin spewing forth from within ourselves will be uprooted to be thrown into the fire.


The LORD spoke to His people through Moses after giving them the Ten Commandments, to say “God has come to test you that the fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:20). It is not that He has come to lay a trap for you to fall into. It is not that He has come to take away all the joy from life. He has come and given His commandments in order to test you to rely upon Him for all the blessings of life.


Tests are not designed so that you fail. Educators should know that tests are not even designed to reveal what you know so that you can be evaluated. The best tests are designed to reinforce what you have learned and to give you the chance to express it and apply it. The test prepares you for future emergencies, so that when the worst happens, you know what needs to be done, and even as day to day things are happening, you get the best out of life.


For example, math tests (ugghhh) help you when you the bills are piling up so you can see what you can afford and what you cannot. They also help when you want to acquire something to enrich your life, showing you how much and how long you will have to save in order to pay for something. They help prevent you from being cheated by others. They help you to be generous in offerings and gifts to charity. Math tests are never meant to make you worse at these kinds of things, only better.


So God has given His commandments, including the 6th, not so that you might fail and fall into sin. He hasn’t given the 6th commandment so that your marriage will break apart. He has given this test so that you learn to trust Him and to find blessing in the life that He has laid out for you. Life in the 6 is a life that gives fulfilment, joy, peace, and happiness. Oh, yes, there will be tests, but they are given to reinforce what you have learned, and to give you the chance to express and apply it. They are to prepare you for future trials and day to day blessings. Your traditions of skirting the commandments only bring fiery destruction.


Jesus didn’t skirt anything. He didn’t skirt the real issue when the Pharisees challenged His disciples about not keeping the tradition of the elders. He didn’t skirt any of the commandments of God. He provided no excuses, no short cuts, no alternate interpretations. And because the commandments of God cannot be skirted, Jesus did not skirt His mission to bring salvation to His people.


He didn’t skirt around His opponents. He didn’t skirt around Jerusalem. He didn’t skirt around the suffering, the betrayal, the agony, or death. “He set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). “He became obedient to the point of death, even death upon a cross” (Philippians 2:8). He did this directly because we come up with all kinds of ways to be indirect about His commandments. We try to establish traditions when our guilt is fully established. Glory be to Jesus that He establishes redemption because God’s Law is fully established. There can be no skirting the issues.


We must live within the bounds of His commandments where there is blessing and peace. That is what it truly means to live in the 6.

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